Fire Ant


Actual Size: ⅛” to ⅜” 

Characteristics: Blackish to red in color. Fire ants have a stinger in their abdomen.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: The reproductive males and females have wings.

Habitat: Fire ants build mounds in almost any soil near structural foundations or in landscaping and prefer open sunny areas.

Fire Ant Habits:

  • Aggressive species, and will push out native species of ants.
  • Will bite first and then use their stinger, located on their abdomen.
  • Attacks are coordinated as dozens or hundreds of workers sting simultaneously. 

Fire Ants in Virginia

Named for their notorious painful sting, a fire ants’ stinger is located on their abdomen. Fire ants are small ants that live in colonies and can be found throughout Virginia. When a fire ant mound is disturbed, workers immediately make their way to the surface. They will attack their victim’s skin with their mandibles and sting simultaneously as a response to the slightest movement. Fire ant attacks are coordinated as dozens or hundreds of workers sting simultaneously. 

Fire Ant Habitat

Often nesting near moisture-laden areas, fire ants prefer to nest near rivers, well-watered lawns, and streams.  Fire ants build mounds next to sidewalks and driveways. In well-manicured lawns, fire ant mounds are rarely more than a few inches tall.  Rapid reproducers,  fire ants can spread throughout a lawn or open area very quickly. Unlike most venomous ants, fire ants bite to hold their prey and then use the stinger in their abdomen to deliver venom.

Fire Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

The primary threat caused by this ant species is their painful sting. Most individuals describe the sensation as feeling like ‘fire’, hence their name. Fire ants can also aggressively dominate local or native ant species in the area, disturbing ecosystems and the animals that eat native ant species. Fire ants are considered invasive, and if an infestation is suspected, it is best to consult a professional fire ant exterminator.